It was my love for cushion cuts that led me to Mark T at Engagement Rings Direct (or ERD). He is affectionately known as “The Cushion King” in the online world of diamonds. People raved about his eye for well-cut diamonds (not just cushions), his very fair prices, and his honesty. And although he is an online vendor, he also has an office which is located in the heart of the NYC diamond district.
When I first tried on rings with Mr. Peony at a Tiffany’s, I saw that the cushions didn’t really look good on my fingers (the Tiffany Lucida and the new Novo are actually types of cushion cuts). I didn’t like the look of large diamonds either – I hardly wear jewelry and I look very young for my age…I just felt uncomfortable with a large ring on my finger. Some women can pull it off, but I can’t. I fell in love with an oval with pear sidestones at Tiffany’s. So before meeting with Mark T, I told him exactly what I wanted and he was able to pull some very beautiful ovals for me.
(Before I continue, I have to say that I’m very lucky to be in NYC. More than 75% of the diamonds sold in the US go through the NYC diamond district at one point or another. So Mark T has a great pool of resources. In addition, his office is in the same building as the GIA’s NYC branch! He can just look at their database of diamonds and run downstairs if he sees something he likes.)
Mark T and his associate both told us that well-cut ovals are very hard to find these days because they are not so popular (cushions and asschers are all the rage these days). When my mother called her jeweler, they confirmed this as well, so we know what they said wasn’t just a sales tactic. However, the ones they pulled for us were all so beautiful that I had a hard time deciding. They were sooo patient with us, showing us the diamonds under different lighting conditions, teaching us how to use a loupe (the jeweler’s magnifier), and sitting with us for over an hour while we made our decision. I immediately fell in love with a 1.50ct oval; however, I felt like I should think about it before we make such a big decision. We asked them to hold the diamond for us.
In the days following, my mother called around to different jewelers to see if they had comparable ovals. Most of them didn’t (good ovals are hard to find), or they wanted thousands more than what Mark had quoted.
So we decided to go with it! When I told them my decision, they told me that it was the first diamond they had pulled for me and they knew I would like it.
I hung out with a bunch of friends recently and they all commented that the pictures I took didn’t do justice – my ring really sparkles like crazy in real life! Ever since he proposed Mr. Peony keeps taking my hand to admire it as well.
This past Friday I stopped by ERD to pick up some papers. Mark asked to see my ring again, admired it, and while sitting amongst huge, 3+ct diamonds, he commented that it was one of the best ovals he’d seen quite some time. This made me so happy knowing just how many diamonds he must see every day!
Isn’t she a beaut?
Along with ERD, there are other very respectable, trustworthy online vendors as well (online vendors usually have a lot lower prices because they don’t have to deal with the overhead costs as regular jewelry stores). Whiteflash is based in Houston and they specialize in ACA, or A Cut Above diamonds, which are cut especially for them to their specifications. They also recently started carrying X-Factors, which is supposed to be a great (and better) alternative to princess cuts. Good Old Gold is based in Long Island and they’re known to find some of the best diamonds out there while providing tons of documentation on each diamond they sell. They also carry a great selection of Square Hearts & Arrows, which has the performance of a round in a square shape. Another great option is James Allen, which is based in Frederick, MD.
When purchasing a diamond, the worst thing you can do is walk into a jewelry store and pick something they have on display. First, you need to do your research. Then make sure that the diamond you’re interested in is certified by a lab such as GIA or AGS (EGL tends to go soft with their grading so they’re not always recommended). If it is not certified, take it to a reputable appraiser to make sure you’re getting your money’s worth. While looking at diamonds, look at them under various types of lighting. The lights in jewelry stores are deceptive! What may look great in the store may be a dud in normal lighting.
A good jeweler will be honest with you and try their very best to find the best diamond for YOU. They will not try to push more expensive diamonds (in fact, most of the diamonds that ERD showed us were under our budget) nor will they pressure you to buy. All the jewelers above will call in diamonds for you if they do not have something you’re looking for in their stock.
Another important thing is their trade-up policy. All the jewelers above also have lifetime trade-up policies. While I’m very sentimental and I could never trade up my e-ring, some women are more than happy to do so. Some may not have the money for a nice e-ring when they get engaged so they may upgrade for an anniversary later on. Whatever the reason, the point is that these vendors will allow you to trade in your diamond for 100% of the initial purchase price. If you think about it, they will not do this unless they believe in their product – if they sell a sh*tty diamond now, and the person comes back years later to trade it in, it’s the jeweler’s loss. For example, Whiteflash, although they will sell certain diamonds if the customer really wants it, they will tell the customer outright that they believe there are better diamonds out there at the same price. If the customer insists that they buy that inferior diamond, Whiteflash will tell them that the diamond will not be eligible for the lifetime trade-in policy.
In addition, if you’re in the position to get engaged in the near future, try on a bunch of rings beforehand! I LOVED the look of certain shapes, settings, etc in pictures but when I tried them on they looked horrible on my hand. Guys, if you’re trying to surprise your girl, ask her friends what she likes! And don’t be afraid to go into a jewelry store just to look. Even if it is with your significant other. Mr. Peony actually saved money by going to a jewelry store with me beforehand.
When I was still deciding between an oval and a cushion, I read an article about diamond shapes and the personalities of women who wear them. I can’t remember every detail but they said that a round is for very traditional women who are family-oriented. They like to play things safe. The princess is for the modern women: they like to take charge, they are assertive, and they take risks. The oval is for those who are very traditional but like to stand out from the crowd once in a while. They are for those who like to be classic/elegant but unique at the same time (just like me!). The article also said that women who wear ovals make very good wives – I’m sure Mr. Peony would like that! Anyway, when I read this article, I knew I was an oval girl!
If you have any questions about diamonds at all, feel free to ask! I’d love to help anyone out!